If you’re looking to kick start the New Year by losing a few pounds, here are some useful tips to get you started on your weight-loss journey.
Don’t confuse your body’s signal for thirst with hunger. Drink a glass of water before you grab something to eat. You may avoid eating extra calories, when drinking a glass of water was all your body needed. If plain water seems too boring, try flavored or sparkling water or other calorie-free beverages.
Studies show that people who eat four or five smaller meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight. Divide your daily calories into mini-meals or snacks and consume most of them earlier in the day, rather than later.
Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner, when you sit down and relax. Snacking in front of the TV is one of the easiest ways to sabotage your weight loss efforts. Portion out a single, snack-size serving, instead of eating directly from the bag or container.
Learn to recognize recommended portion sizes. Use a digital kitchen scale and measuring cups to weigh and measure your food. Eating from smaller plates can help downsize your portions. This makes the amount of food you are eating look like more. Eating more slowly can help, too.
Try to include some protein at every meal. Protein is more satisfying than carbs or fats and will keeps you feeling full longer. It also helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning. Focus on healthy proteins such as lean meat, seafood, eggs, yogurt, cheese, soy, nuts and beans.
Don’t skip breakfast. Not eating breakfast can make you very hungry later on, leading to too much nibbling and/or binge eating at lunch and dinner. To lose weight and keep it off, always make time for a healthy morning meal, like high-fiber cereal, low-fat milk and fruit.
Bump up the amount of fiber, fruits and vegetables in your diet. Fiber aids digestion, prevents constipation and lowers cholesterol — and can help with weight loss. Most women should get about 25 grams of fiber daily, while men need about 38 grams (or about 14 grams per 1,000 calories).
Good fiber sources include oatmeal, beans, whole grain foods, nuts and most fruits and vegetables. If you eat more fruits and vegetables, you won’t feel as hungry. These nutrient-rich foods are high in fiber and water, and can give you a feeling of fullness without adding many calories to your diet.
Dining out can be challenging for anyone who is watching his or her weight. Most restaurants have their menus posted online and many include nutritional information such as calories, fat, salt, etc. Decide on your food choices before leaving home.
Ordering a children’s entree is a great way to cut calories and keep portion sizes reasonable. Another helpful tip is to share a regular-size entrée with your dining companion or take half of your dinner home for another meal. Ask the server to box it up, as soon as your meal is placed on the table.
And finally, become a vigilant label reader at the grocery store. Compare product ingredients carefully. Before selecting a “fat-free” version of a product (example: fat-fat ice cream), check the label to see if the amount of sugar has been increased to compensate for missing fat and flavor. The fat-free option may actually be higher in calories.
Unfortunately, there are no “secret” weight-loss tips to magically help you lose weight. But adopting some small, incremental changes to improve your diet can have a positive effect on your weight by the end of 2018.
Dr. Khaled Elkady is an internal medicine physician at Aurora Bay Area Health Center, 4061 Old Peshtigo Road, Marinette. His office can be reached at 715-732-8100.